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Buyers beware 'as is' home purchases

Reading contracts and getting a pre-purchase inspection is important before making an "as is" home purchase. Failure to do so can lead to a buyer nightmare.

ATLANTA, Georgia — It's springtime, and that signals a surge in the home buying market.

Sellers are sprucing up their homes and buyers are looking for that great home-owning bargain. But it also signals "buyer beware." If the house is on the market "AS IS," you could be walking into a trap.

For Susan Hochman, owning her own home was the American dream.

She found one in a Metro Atlanta school district she favored for her teenage children. She bought it “AS IS,” with the seller allowing no time for a full pre-inspection - and that is when the problems started.

“I certainly would not buy a house without getting it completely inspected, as even if you think it looks good on the inside, there are other things that could be wrong,” she warned.

It's already cost Hochman $30,000 to make repairs, and it's far from over.

“There were pipes that were not connected and there were pipes that were running nowhere with water running down into the crawlspace,” she listed.

And that is not all.

“My floor in the kitchen - and you can see the open hole in my kitchen and it goes down to the crawlspace,” Hochman described, gesturing to the mess. “As I took the flooring out, this is what was discovered ... I have fallen through in a few other places."

And, it is important that buyers take a time to read through the contract of sale and pay close attention to the page that outlines representations made by the seller.

If you see a "no" checked off alongside issues including plumbing and you later discover major problems, you may have legal remedies.

“If a seller has made factual representations about the property in the disclosure that turn out to be untrue, that would give the buyer a potential remedy for breach of contract," explained Michael McGoff, an Atlanta attorney. "If the conditions were not as represented in the contact. It could also be the basis of a fraudulent inducement claim if the seller knew those conditions were not true.” 

The AS IS cautions are clearly in place, so make sure to: 

  1. Do your homework, first.
  2. Read your contract, and
  3. Get a complete home inspection and do not rely on your own personal look-see at the property as it takes a professional to spot hidden defects that can properly slow down your American home buyers dream.